Don’t You Dare Call Miriam González Durántez “Mrs Clegg”
She is a lawyer and wife to former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and she recently lampooned an organization on social media for referring to her by her husband’s name. So instead of calling her “Miriam González Durántez” they called her “Mrs Clegg.” She took umbrage as she apparently feels that she is an independent woman with a name of her own and that calling her “Mrs Clegg” was in fact to debase her independence.
The reaction to Miriam González Durántez was mixed, to say the least, and the story was picked up in the Guardian and spun in several different wash cycles. The whole spin became whether by taking or not taking a husband’s last name, a woman is more or less committed and the husband is more or less inclined to divorce said woman based on whether she takes his name or not.
The article referenced a study in the United States, where, astonishingly, 94 percent of women feel that after marriage a woman ought to take her husband’s last name and 50 percent feel that it should be a legal obligation. Although, that is not so outrageous when you consider that in progressive countries like Japan a woman is legally obliged to take her husband’s last name.
The study did not clarify the divorce rate for women who took their husband’s last name versus those who did not.
Years back, we discussed this issue on DS. We have discussed this issue of the name from various angles, in fact. For example, here, where our former editor discussed whether keeping your maiden name might weaken your marriage and how she felt about changing her own name if she ever got married. Or this other post discussing should you keep the husband’s name after the divorce? On top of that, what about the kids? Should the kids keep their father’s name, by law, after a divorce?
And there are many others that we have produced over the years. As for Ms. Miriam González Durántez she apparently objected on a few grounds to the salutation “Mrs. Clegg” because it was mired in irony given that the organization was writing to invite her to speak at a forum for women – celebrating “International Women’s Day.” According to the Guardian report, many commentators who responded to her Instagram lampoon of the absurdity (according to her) of being called Mrs. Clegg to celebrate International Women’s Day felt this way:
Numerous online commentators have bemoaned the ways in which feminism “demeans women and destroys families”, or argued that it is simply “wrong for kids not to have their father’s surname”. Now, a book due out this month, entitled The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and
Marriage, claims that “society is creating a new crop of alpha women who are unable to love”. Yielding to one’s husband, the author, Suzanne Venker, argues, is key to mastering “wifedom”, to which modern “alpha women” are poorly suited because they have “become too masculine”, having been “groomed to be leaders rather than to be wives”.
Is this all much ado about nothing? Is it going a little too deep? So what if the woman wants to be called by her own name? All of a sudden she has not mastered “wifedom”? All of a sudden she is too masculine and she is demeaning marriage and family? On the other hand, did she over-react by equating her nomenclature independence with the celebration of a Day? In other words, being called by her husband’s last name does not in any way diminish her ability to celebrate and participate in International Women’s Day.
She is perfectly a woman and can celebrate International Women’s Day – with dignity – equally as Mrs. Clegg as she could as Miriam González Durántez.
Ain’t she still a woman irregardless?